Organizing

Working on Goals

This is the time of year that many of us reflect on our past and begin to think about the things we want to accomplish in the next. New Year’s resolutions are somewhat of a failed tradition, so this year I have decided to look at things a bit differently and instead reevaluate some of my existing goals. 

Today in my writing day. I need to set aside a time and for months it has been, “sometime during the week”. The thing is I let everything get in the way… I must do the dishes or the laundry, I need to pick up my daughter at school or I need to go grocery shopping. This is all true. It all needs to be done but not all by me and not right at this moment. Well, certain things do like meeting my daughter after school and appointments.  A friend pointed out to me though that it is a time management problem. She said it and I was embarrassed at first but then admitted to myself that she was right. I want to get better and I have been trying. I admit that I am an expert at procrastination. I have and always done it. I use planners and make lists but where can I improve?

I have to set a routine and realize it takes a while to stick. I have to remind myself to make an effort so that over time it will become a habit. The definition of a routine is:

Noun 1. a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program.

Adjective 1. performed as part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason.

It is a poor excuse to blame the world and everything around us. We all just have to make it work. It is too much energy to not be happy because you pushed aside doing what you love – I’m thinking of my writing and photography.

To simplify life this year – that is my goal. Granted, it is not new. I have been working on this one for a while now and have made some gains, but feel like a renewal of this resolution needs to make. Hence, I am making yet another list. So here is my plan, or goal if you will, to make life more fluid and hopefully fulfilling.

In no particular order these are my goals:

  1. Contentment with our space – getting rid of stuff, all the excess. I am really struggling with this one and I am not sure why. I have theories but it should not be so hard to get from here to there. It has been years of wanting to reclaim my space but I still am just scrapping that wall of excess. I thought maybe slow and steady was the way to go but maybe for me, it really is quick and painless. February 5th is Chinese New Year and so my goal is to have a lot of this place cleaned out before then. It gives a month and a half to just diligently follow a process of picking up an item and asking (Queue music), “Does it stay or does it go?”. Maybe I need some form of a support group to hold myself accountable. I am not fooling myself – it is a mental shift and a way of living and thinking that we have to live by. Ten years later we could be in the same boat if we don’t make ongoing daily changes.
  2. Simplify my cooking – cooking meals for myself and my family should be healthy and straightforward. I never have started the week with a menu but I feel that I need a plan a day or two ahead of time instead of going by the seat of my pants, cooking meals and what we eat can be simple and it usually is but it would be nice if I was a tiny bit more prepared on this one. Sometimes I feel like I am in and out of the kitchen all day making or getting food. And when family members are doing the same the kitchen and eating areas are in a constant state of disarray. What I need is a book or a list of my go-to meals that I can go through when I am stuck.
  3. Take care of myself  – eat well, exercise, meditate, etc.
  4. Photography and writing
  5. Delegate household responsibilities – It is a shared living space and respecting that is part of it. When it comes to maintaining a clean living space, everyone should take part. You are not doing any favours for your children if they don’t learn to recognize and live by this rule. Leave the bathroom the way it was when they went in. The same for the kitchen. Now, this is a bad one in this house and I grumble under my breath, sometimes aloud, about this. Pick my battles, right? This is one I put up with for years but with needing to set a good pattern for my daughter, I think this is a battle that needs be fought.
  6. Greening up/cleaner living – making those lifestyle changes that affect our environment, health and finances. For me, this is switching to reusables. Using less plastic and trying to lessen the amount of waste our household creates. This means critiquing the way I shop for food and other things such as clothes. It means this website and feeling the need to share these ideas, not for validation but for influence. I am also using essential oils to get rid of chemicals, replacing store-bought cleaners and replace some of the medicines we use such as cold and allergy remedies. Preventative measures. Aromatherapy is somewhat new for me. I’ve been exploring the possibilities of essential oils in a therapeutic sense.
  7. Create a routine – this goes back to where I started. I have to make an outline of my week and stick to it somewhat. Let that be the guide instead of the other way around. I am too flexible with my time and so when I shuffle my blocks of time around something gets pushed off the grid and either forgotten of the next time I come to it there is double or triple the amount of work to do. That is in part why I can never catch up. Something is always falling to the wayside that shouldn’t.
  8. A good weekly planner to make my days run more smoothly – writing down things has always been a thing with me. Whether is list scrawled on a back of a piece of mail or written neatly in a planner it helps me through my day. As well as keeping things organized there is a great satisfaction to crossing items off or looking at it by the end of the day and seeing what you accomplished.  I am a visual and kinetic learner, so it also imprints a virtual list in my mind when I physically write it down. This is why lists on my phone or the apps don’t work the same way. I need the actual action/sense or holding a pencil and paper. I have had a hard time finding a planner that works for me. I have tried many that left me dissatisfied with wasted columns and pages or layouts that just did not fit my lifestyle and actually distracted me more, instead of assisting me. I tried bullet journals, and this did not work for me either.  I journal a lot. Sometimes a short scribble or thought, other times it is a full out article.  So, what do I do?  I created my own planner.  It was a bit of work, in the beginning, to lay it all out, and I still fuss or tweak something occasionally, but it doesn’t waste my time and aggravate me when I am using it.  It is beneficial that I can make changes as needs evolve.

Recipes

I Made Chicken Noodle Soup

I woke up this morning in the dark. The power was out and I thought “Argh…this should be fun.”

Getting my daughter ready for school means getting her to eat an energy packed breakfast, packing her lunch, getting dressed and cleaned up for the day. It was actually kind of fun. She got to eat breakfast by flashlight while I packed her lunch box by candle light. She washed up with a pot of warm soapy water and all without complaint except wondering if the school was out too. That’s not really a complaint though.

We have been lucky with our power. When it is out, it should not be the end of all. Panic shouldn’t set in because the lights are out. It is quiet where our house is. I am surrounded by trees. Our neighbors are close enough to see, but far enough to have space. There are pros of living here. I love it. When the power is out it is super quiet. I become aware of the day to day sounds I’ve gotten so accustomed to. I don’t even notice until they are gone. The hum of the refrigerator and the furnace kicking in. The electric buzzes and clicks of the tv and computers. All the little led lights of this ‘n’ that device. When the power comes on it’s a whole mess of sound as everything comes back to life. Breath in….breath out.

The days are getting shorter and cooler. Our furnace is kicking in and we have already had a couple of fires in the wood stove to warm the floors.

I’m looking forward to uping our eating habits to be heathier for us and the world. I am looking forward to more soups and broths to be our every day norm. I want to keep moving my way towards things that are less processed and less packaged. When it comes to lunches that means no more cans of chicken nooodle soup. One of the things on the menu that she is almost always guaranteed to eat. I have been experimenting with different homemade ones to come up with a healthier, tasty family and ‘mykid’ approved version.

I have found one that works pretty well for my particular eater. The ingredients are simple.

  • Chicken (bone in)
  • Water
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • onion
  • Garlic
  • Egg noodles
  • Salt
  • Bay leaf

I used my electric pressure cooker and a blender for this. In the instant Pot, put every thing but the noodles they go in shortly before serving as they will keep cooking into a mush if put in too soon. Set for soup or 30 minutes. Remove bay leaves and chicken making sure to get any bones that have fallen off. The soup is actually pretty tasty as it is, but in this case I am blending it to make a nice smooth soup base. Use an emmersion blender or let it cool and put it in a counter top one. Add salt to taste.

Shred chicken off the bone and add it back into the broth. Transfer into portions that can be frozen or kept in the fridge for a few days.

In the morning I can pull out a portion and heat it up. Add egg noodles and let it simmer for a bit before putting in her thermos.

By doing this:

I have less cans to recycle.

I have a better tasting meal with no additives.

Bonus: My kid approved this for her lunches!

FOOD, Sprouting

My Sprout Grower

This is the sprouter that started it all.

 

About 5 years ago I picked up this little guy from Mississauga’s VegFest. I was intrigued with the notion of growing something other than herbs on my kitchen counter.  I don’t actually grow herbs, not for a lack of trying, but when it comes to growing things I’m really not all that patient. This is designed like a greenhouse to safely sprout in a day or two.  It is so much fun to watch how they progress and I see it a learning opportunity for my daughter to see how food can be grown without soil and anytime of the year.

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I’m still using it even after being stood on and crushed a few years ago. By my then 4 year old. It just popped back when pushed  into shape.

Yes, I know it’s plastic and these days I am all about reducing the amount we use but I wasn’t thinking about it back then. This is one of those situations where the value of adding sprouts to my daily eating routine takes precedence.  The basket itself is stainless steel. There are many ways to sprout which I have since began exploring but this system is so simple,  efficient, and transportable that it grabbed and still holds my attention. My family is now part of a CSA program with a local company called Four Season Greens so we always have a consistent supply and variety. I still use my Sprout Grower in addition, but to make sure I have enough to make my salads and feed all of us I purchase a weekly supply.

That day I was nostalgic for when my mother made some bean sprouts as a kid. She didn’t do it often. I just have this vague memory her growing some soybean sprouts on the kitchen counter. I remember trying some and that wonderful crunchy mouthful of flavor that followed. I bought this new sprouter not knowing much about the benefits of it and micro-greens.  I was more interested in having a new addition to enhance our dishes and salads. The more I read and eat the more evident it becomes that we need to put nutrients back into our diet. We have over processed our food.

This is Tony’s site, the developer of this sprouter. It is chock full of links and information on sprouting and it’s benefits!

http://www.sproutgrowers.com

 

FOOD, Sprouting

Sprout Salads

How could I have not written a post about this yet. My new love of salads thanks to sprouts and micro-greens. Crunchy, crispy, chock full of flavour and goodness. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

About 5 or 6 years ago we went to the vegan fest in Mississauga. That day i came home with a sprout grower that works so efficient and simply. I was blown away by how I could be eating crunchy and tasty sprouts within a day or two. It came with a package of mung beans to get me started. Since then I have been eating, reading and learning sprouts.

ENVIRONMENT, Simple Switches

Liquid Handsoap #2!

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I wanted to try a non-foaming liquid soap this time using the same basic ingredients as the one I have been using – Castile soap, water, olive oil and essential oils.  I got a great pump attachment for a mason jar that’s been waiting to be put to good use.  I got it at Masonauve, a Canadian company in Ontario that sells lids and accessories to retrofit Mason/Bernardin jars. Many of us have a few already floating around our homes.

The solution for a regular pump dispenser needs to be thicker so that it won’t run down the pump. I did a bit of research and found that you could change the consistency by adding salt. Who knew?  I tried this and it does work! I didn’t add too much so it only slightly thickened it.

Essential oils aren’t necessary but they do add a nice natural fragrance and depending on the oil it can add some beneficial properties.  This time I thought bergamot oil might be a nice addition. I love the calming smell and it’s one that I have been reaching for a lot lately.  It speeds healing of scratches on skin and is great for reducing inflammation and soothing irritated skin.

  • 1 cup distilled or boiled water
  • 4 tbsp castile soap
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 15 (approx) drops essential oils

I find you can play around with amounts a bit. Start with fewer drops of oil and try it out. You can easily add more to your bottle.